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India seeks to block Chinese firms from sub-Rs 12,000 phone market: Report

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NEW DELHI: India seeks to restrict Chinese smartphone makers from selling devices cheaper than Rs 12,000 ($150) to kickstart its faltering domestic industry, dealing a blow to brands including Xiaomi Corp.

The move is aimed at pushing Chinese giants out of the lower segment of the world’s second-biggest mobile market, according to people familiar with the matter. It coincides with mounting concern about high-volume brands like Realme and Transsion undercutting local manufacturers, they said, asking not to be identified discussing a sensitive matter.

Exclusion from India’s entry-level market would hurt Xiaomi and its peers, which in recent years have increasingly relied on India to drive growth while their home market endures a series of Covid-19 lockdowns that crippled consumption. Smartphones under $150 contributed to a third of India’s sales volume for the quarter through June 2022, with Chinese companies accounting for up to 80% of those shipments, according to market tracker Counterpoint.

Xiaomi’s shares extended losses in the final minutes of trading in Hong Kong on Monday. It slid 3.6%, extending their decline this year to more than 35%. It’s unclear whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will announce any policies or use informal channels to convey its preference to Chinese companies, the people said.

“Xiaomi smartphone shipments may fall by 11-14% a year, or 20-25 million units, with sales decreasing by 4-5%, we calculate, if India enacts a ban on China-made mobile phones retailing under $150. It accounts for 25% of the segment in India, which is Xiaomi’s most important overseas market, with 66% of its smartphones priced under $150,” according to IDC’s analysts.

New Delhi has already subjected Chinese firms operating in the country, such as Xiaomi and rivals Oppo and Vivo, to close scrutiny of their finances, which has led to tax demands and money laundering allegations. The government has previously employed unofficial means to ban Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. telecom equipment. While there’s no official policy prohibiting Chinese networking gear, wireless carriers are encouraged to purchase alternatives.

The move shouldn’t affect Apple Inc. or Samsung Electronics Co., which price their phones higher. Representatives from Xiaomi, Realme and Transsion didn’t respond to requests for comment. Spokespeople from India’s technology ministry also didn’t respond to Bloomberg News inquiries.

India amped up pressure on Chinese firms in the summer of 2020 after more than a dozen Indian soldiers died following a clash between the two nuclear-armed neighbors on a disputed Himalayan border. It has since banned more than 300 apps, including Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat and ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, as relations between the two countries fray.

Homegrown companies such as Lava and MicroMax comprised just under half of India’s smartphone sales before new entrants from the neighboring country disrupted the market with cheap and feature-rich devices.

Chinese smartphone players now sell the vast majority of devices in India, but their market dominance has not been “on the basis of free and fair competition”, MoS IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar told Business Standard last week. Recurring annual losses posted by most Chinese handset makers in India, despite their leading position, add to criticism of unfair competition.

In private, the government continues to ask Chinese executives to build local supply chains, distribution networks and export from India, suggesting New Delhi still very much wants their investment, the people said.

Source: Bloomberg

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5g

Airtel launches Edge CDN ahead of 5G Launch

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India’s premier digital communications solutions provider, today announced multiple new products in its cloud portfolio ahead of the 5G service launch. The new cloud offerings will fall under Edge Cloud Portfolio and will include Edge CDN. Airtel will utilise Qwilt’s Open Edge Cloud solution for deployment.

Airtel Cloud’s Edge content delivery network (CDN) accelerates web and video content delivery by using its edge network to bring content as close to users as possible. This reduces latency, costs and load on servers making it easier for enterprises to focus on app performance. This service is especially useful in OTT, Ed-Tech, Gaming and Healthcare sectors.

Airtel Cloud’s Edge CDN service is network optimised as it uses 120 edge locations, network strength and share of mobility handset to bring better customer experience to customers. Airtel is working with two of the largest OTT companies in India and others on this platform.

Speaking about Airtel Cloud’s Edge Portfolio, Mr Ajay Chitkara, Director and CEO, Airtel Business Said, said, “With 5G around the corner, businesses will leverage the low latency, high bandwidth and high device density of the 5G spectrum to solve critical problems using edge computing. Airtel has three key strengths to offer a differentiated set of cloud offerings – we have 12 large data centres and 120+ edge locations. We also have a network with comprehensive coverage across the country and to most locations across the globe. Finally, our GTM strength has direct relationships to all businesses in India small, medium or large.”

Speaking about the partnership, Mr. Alon Maor, CEO, Qwilt, said “Airtel is a tremendously exciting addition to our global ecosystem of service providers, and we are delighted to power a unique content delivery service offering in India. Our edge architecture provides a new economic model for streaming delivery, in which Airtel Cloud’s Edge CDN plays a central role in the end-to-end value chain. This announcement underscores the momentum we are gathering as we realize our ambition to build the world’s highest preforming edge delivery network.”

Airtel has been spearheading 5G throughout India. It recently became the first company to test a captive private network at the Bosch facility in Bengaluru. Airtel is also rolling out its Edge compute service to customers. This will bring 5G private network and edge computing in a single box with a view to target factories, warehouse and ports, airports who will need low latency and high bandwidth network, IOT devices to collect and computing prowess to process the data.

Airtel also announced that as we move ahead, there will be many targeted cloud solutions coming in for specific industry needs like Banking, 5G Edge, Developer and hybrid cloud requirements on an immediate basis.

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Samsung to start selling premium Galaxy S22 series from March 11

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NEW DELHI: South Korean electronics major Samsung on Thursday unveiled smartphone Galaxy S22 Ultra series in the ultra premium segment which it plans to start selling in the country from March 11.

The company unveiled six high-end smartphones in the Galaxy S22 series in the price range of Rs 72,999-Rs 1,18,999 apiece.

“For the first time, the Galaxy S22 Ultra will bring together the best of Galaxy Note and S Series.

“Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with a built-in S Pen, advanced nightography capabilities, and battery life that lasts over a day, making it our most-powerful ultra device yet,” Samsung India Senior Director and Head (Product Marketing) Aditya Babbar said.

An industry source said the company will start selling the Galaxy S22 series in the country from March 11.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Manufacturing

Foxconn to resume operations at Tamil Nadu plant; facility under probation by Apple

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NEW DELHI: Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group on Monday said it has implemented a range of corrective actions and will start bringing back team members gradually to the Sriperumbudur factory, which was shut down last month following a mass food-poisoning incident at the plant’s offsite dormitory facility.

The factory located on the outskirts of Chennai in Tamil Nadu was shut down on December 18 after workers’ protests on the back of a mass-food poisoning incident at the offsite dormitory facility.

“We have been working on a series of improvements to fix issues we found at the offsite dormitory facilities at Sriperumbudur and to enhance the services we provide to our employees. We have implemented a range of corrective actions to ensure this cannot happen again and a rigorous monitoring system to ensure workers can raise any concerns they may have, including anonymously,” Hon Hai Technology Group (Foxconn) said in a statement.

The company also said it will “gradually begin to welcome back team members as each offsite dormitory becomes ready and is approved”.

According to sources, operations will be gradually resumed at the factory as hostels and dormitories get ready and certified as per local requirements by the government and Apple’s audits.

An Apple spokesperson said the Sriperumbudur facility continues to be on probation and that the company is closely monitoring the situation.

“For the past several weeks teams from Apple, along with independent auditors, have been working with Foxconn to ensure a comprehensive set of corrective actions are implemented in the offsite accommodations and dining rooms at Sriperumbudur,” the spokesperson said.

Workers will start to return gradually as soon as Apple is certain its standards are being met in every dormitory and dining area, the spokesperson emphasised.

Apple had put the Sriperumbudur factory of the iPhone assembler Foxconn on ‘probation’ following worker protests and an assessment that revealed substandard living conditions, saying it will ensure strict standards are met before the unit reopens.

While the companies did not comment on the expected timelines for full resumption of operations, the sources said full resumption of operations at the plant will take more time and workers will only be brought back in a phased manner over the next few months.

The factory has more than 15,000 people working on production of Apple products.

According to the sources, there has also been a management change at Foxconn India with a change of guard locally and introduction of new systems to better manage the factory and employee facilities.

The commercial production of the newly-launched iPhone 13 series was reportedly expected to start at the Foxconn plant by February. It is unclear if Apple’s probation would affect these plans.

 

Source: Press Trust of India

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